Using a credit card to buy one Atomic Fireball? Priceless.

The night before any holiday where greeting cards are involved, I wind up at the stationery store. My goal is always to spend $1.99 (plus tax). But since I don't carry that kind of cash, I have to whip out the plastic. And whipping out the plastic means I must also grab an extravagant bow, holiday-appropriate candy corn, and a stuffed Mr. T rear-view mirror accessory.

The purchase of these ridiculous items is dictated by a sign taped to the register. Scrawled in green marker on notebook paper with maddeningly frayed edges, the sign says, "Minimum Credit Card Purchase $10."

And according to Bottom Line Personal, a magazine I didn't realize I received, that sign violates the terms and conditions imposed by Visa and MasterCard.

"Did you know that merchants who accept Visa and MasterCard cannot require a minimum purchase? If a merchant insists on a minimum purchase amount, contact your card issuer to complain."

The Consumerist has the actual wording, from Visa:

"Always honor valid Visa cards, in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts is a violation."

Now, your local merchants might argue that paying credit card fees on miniscule purchases eliminates their profit margins. And that sounds pretty reasonable. But my point is this -- if you wind up a few dollars short of an arbitrary limit, and you're the kind of person who argues about signs taped to cash registers, you won't have to walk out with unwanted purchases.

Or you can just start carrying around more cash.  Anyone have any good/embarrassing stories of stuff you bought to reach a minimum purchase limit?

Bone Broth 101

Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).


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